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Sessler's Soapbox: I Hate Numbers

Posted: October 25, 2011
Sessler's Soapbox: I Hate Numbers
http://www.g4tv.com/videos/55954/sesslers-soapbox-i-hate-numbers/
http://images.g4tv.com/ImageDb3/286819_LGST/soapbox-10-25-11.jpg
Video_55954
Adam uses the response to his Uncharted 3 review to talk about his distaste for applying numerical values to the quality of creative works.

Comments are Closed

  • bdemell

    I agree with everything Adam said but if you hate numbers than why does G4 still use a numeric system. Why not go to something like Fandango where you have categories like "Must Play", "Enjoyable Experience", "Dull" and other ways to describe how you feel about the game. Can you really rant about a system you precipitate? Change has to come from somewhere.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 1:03 PM
    bdemell
  • What_Rabbit?

    adam well said, *slow clap* now take a deep breath bro, good thing you were sitting down.

    if the only thing that mattered in a review was the score than that would be the review. you would just come out and say a _ out of 5, and that woudl be the end of the review. but the point of reviews is to listen to how you came to that conclusion.

    as a listener or a reader we must listen to why that conclusion was met and then we must either agree or disagree and form our own opinions on it, the number system is just a blanket it really means nothing. as the audience we must take it in, THINK, and ask ourselves do we want to buy/play this game, watch this movie, read this book, eat here, after what was said not just the score.

    and i agree, you cant compare in a broad stroke. certain things are good for certain reasons and others are good for completely other reasons.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 12:58 PM
    What_Rabbit%3f
  • benhamean

    I'll chime in even though my comment will get lost in this sea of arguments...

    I think people automatically want a numerical "opinion" once something has a dollar value slapped on it. They want to know whether it's a buy or a pass.

    It would make sense if we just incorporated the thumbs up/down system instead of the "star" system BUT that only works for things that don't have dollar value. It worked for YouTube because honestly, what did the "star" value tell you about the video? Nothing. And when you really rate a video, your consciously just saying "i like it", "I don't like it", so there's no need for a "star" system.

    Media (music/movies/videogames) on the other hand has an actually $ value along with a longer period for evaluation. It might be simple to say Yes or No-go on one music track you recommend to a friend, but when it comes to a 20 hour video game adventure, you suddenly can't break it down as simply as that.

    One point I think Adam is wrong about is that this American obsessed rating system is used to compare one piece of art to another. I never consider a score of a game to be in context to another, I.E. a 5/5 for GOW3 doesn't equal the 5/5 for batman. There's different tastes of course, and all I take from the 5/5 is that it is a solid game that does what it says it does well, and if your interested, it's a must buy.

    On the other hand, people should just respect his god damn opinion. Don't let it sway you from picking up the game and judging for yourself. Hell my favorite movie ever has a 40% on rotten tomatoes, and if I let a rating get in the way, I might never experience anything.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 12:12 PM
  • benhamean

    I'll chime in even though my comment will get lost in this sea of arguments...

    I think people automatically want a numerical "opinion" once something has a dollar value slapped on it. They want to know whether it's a buy or a pass.

    It would make sense if we just incorporated the thumbs up/down system instead of the "star" system BUT that only works for things that don't have dollar value. It worked for YouTube because honestly, what did the "star" value tell you about the video? Nothing. And when you really rate a video, your consciously just saying "i like it", "I don't like it", so there's no need for a "star" system.

    Media (music/movies/videogames) on the other hand has an actually $ value along with a longer period for evaluation. It might be simple to say Yes or No-go on one music track you recommend to a friend, but when it comes to a 20 hour video game adventure, you suddenly can't break it down as simply as that.

    One point I think Adam is wrong about is that this American obsessed rating system is used to compare one piece of art to another. I never consider a score of a game to be in context to another, I.E. a 5/5 for GOW3 doesn't equal the 5/5 for batman. There's different tastes of course, and all I take from the 5/5 is that it is a solid game that does what it says it does well, and if your interested, it's a must buy.

    On the other hand, people should just respect his god damn opinion. Don't let it sway you from picking up the game and judging for yourself. Hell my favorite movie ever has a 40% on rotten tomatoes, and if I let a rating get in the way, I might never experience anything.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 12:08 PM
  • bigmonstefan

    I thought his head was going to explode there for a second.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 12:07 PM
    bigmonstefan
  • MightyEnchilada1

    Reviews are meant to be read, not just scrolled straight to the score!

    Posted: October 26, 2011 12:06 PM
    MightyEnchilada1
  • Peruet

    Adam,

    I have a couple of comments regarding this video:

    1. I agree with you on a philosophical level. The 5 star rating system (or even the percentage score) is not a good way to represent the complexities of something as involved as a video game. Considering that many games push on 100+ hours of entertainment and that so many games these days have so many different aspects (collecting, combat, story, video, sound... each of which can draw you into their world or completely ruin the experience), a single number does a game disservice. You really need to discuss each of the individual elements and how they fit together in a context of something as big as a modern game.

    However, there something to be said about the convenience of a single score. If I see a game with a score of 2 stars or lower or (40% or lower) from a reviewer I trust, for better or worse, I probably won't even read the details of the review. Having a limited amount of time to play games (let alone research new ones), I'll trust the opinion of the reviewer that the game is terrible or broken in some manner to have deserved such a negative review.

    So my punchline is that, Yes, stereotyping and ranking is bad. On the other hand, I entrust you guys (reviewers in general and G4 in particular) to play all the games out there, sift through all the crap, and point out to me (in whatever fashion you chose... though numbers help here :D ) the gems out there so that I can concentrate my research on the truly exceptional games to see if they are for me. Some of the very best games I played (and loved) I've discovered by reading reviews (many of the indie or lower budget games do not have the huge marketing budgets to put them on my radar otherwise) and with thousands reviews on pretty much any review site some way to gauge reviewer's excitement (scoring) really helps.

    2. Breathe! I really like your videos and I'd hate for you to have an early heart attack :) Folks our age really need to watch out for that you know ;)

    Keep up the good work,

    Peruet

    Posted: October 26, 2011 11:58 AM
    Peruet
  • grimreaper2010

    hay Adam!! read this. I am a software engineering student at Southern Poly tech in Ga. The numerical scores are coming from the software developers believe it or not. There are two systems that are being used 'Function point' and the other is 'COCOMO'. Both system strive to take a project and some how place a number of measure on what is being done. ether by lines of code, bugs, goals, person hrs, buget, etc. Then taking all that data and plug it into a formula that spits out a number that says weather the work is bad or good. a link to power point is below so that you can read it yourself.

    look for Lesson 12.1: Quick Review of Some Estimating Techniques (Student: Self-Study)

    http://cse.spsu.edu/ftsui/SW E2313.html

    Posted: October 26, 2011 11:13 AM
    grimreaper2010
  • MrThreepwood

    I like how you can rate this video

    Posted: October 26, 2011 11:07 AM
    MrThreepwood
  • Vorago24

    I think what people forget is that Adam's reviews are based on opinion. I'm sure die hard uncharted fans are still going to go out and buy the third installment of the game. But what if he decided he didn't like it at all and gave it a 2 out of 5? Would it change the way uncharted 3 plays? No, because it's his *opinion* and people need to look at it that way. It's meant to be there as a guide rather than a judge banging his gavel. Plus if you actually read the review, as he suggested, you might actually understand why he gave the game the score he did.

    On the topic of Adam just dropping the numerical system out of the blue. I don't think it's up to Adam or else he would've done it already. And I could see how it could be a poor business decision because a large portion of community is made up of 13-17 year olds that won't even take the time to read a small game manual. Let alone a full review. That's money they'd lose on ad time. But the reality is that only the more mature game enthusiasts will actually go and read anything voluntarily. Don't worry Adam, there's still a good community out there. We're just not as loud and obnoxious so you might not see us as often.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 10:54 AM
    Vorago24
  • Wozman23

    I favor simplicity and prefer a two grade system, like a thumbs up and thumbs down. There can also be a 3rd neutral grade for games that are indifferent, but I'd prefer to lump them into the thumbs up category.

    Over the years I've played a lot of great games. Some of them are critically acclaimed like Uncharted while others receive mediocre (but still positive) reviews, like the recent Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One.
    Then there are the games like Damnation, that are so poorly put together that I can't even fathom playing them all the way through, that deserve a bad rating.

    Under Metacritic standards, good games may have a 30 point disparity despite both being solid, fun experiences in many peoples' eyes. If they were both just labeled with a thumbs up, then they can be considered equally, and there is less comparing of apples to oranges and less bickering about numbers.

    To me reviews should merely encourage people to purchase or play games they have already deemed interesting before release, providing the are technically sound, and should only discourage people when the games are atrocious. That's how I've always viewed them. If there is a game that interest me, and it doesn't have any glaring problems, I'm going to play it regardless of where it fits on the upper end of the review spectrum.

    This system of giving exact numbers only hurts developers, which is why we see so many embargoes. Far too many consumers see scores that are less than perfect and think that means the game is bad. Society has become far too knee-jerk. We either need to simplify the system to cut down on the semantics, or curb people's thinking when it comes to these scores. I don't see the latter happening, so we should probably concentrate on the former. It would eliminate the the various shades of grey, which would cut down on the majority of the complaining.

    Maybe I just think that way because I'm a generally positive person. I set no expectations, and in doing so are rarely disappointed. I think every game, sadly even the bad ones, have an audience. We are all unique snowflakes with unique tastes, and are somewhat stupid for even need feeling the need to rely on such a system and external influences.

    There are methods in place to make sure people don't blow 60 dollars on bad games. Various rental agencies and used game retailers that allow you to try the game and form your own opinion for a fraction of the cost. When Fallout 3 came out, I wasn't 100% sure I'd like VATS, so I waited for Gamefly to send a copy, I tried it, and liked it so much I just bought it from them.

    (P.S. G4, can you start paying me for my comments? I invested a decent amount of time and thought into this one and could use a better paying job. I can also write jokes, make really good grilled cheeses, and juggle. Consider this my resume. Plus I think I just definitively proved we can fire all your reviewers.)

    Posted: October 26, 2011 10:46 AM
    Wozman23
  • gambolingman

    What I don't like about Adam is the hypocrisy you put upon the viewer. You gave a meaningful thoughtful discussion on your soapbox, but I think what you should have done was to not actually give the game a score and just left the review. Instead of leaving a score, you should merely write what the game does and what it doesn't do. If you as a gamer are so concerned on that score, then you should tell your corporate overlords to change the way you review games on the website. Adam, you need to bring forth change the same way GamePro did. Two years ago, game pro used a rating system out of 10 with decimal marks. They stated the pros and cons and something funny during each review. The comments they received from hateful messages were so large that they changed the review section into a discussion section that merely states what the game does and what kind of game it is. In my opinion the thing they did really improved the magazine and is the reason why I still read it.
    Now, your goal Adam is to change the way you review games even if it means destroying your extremely corrupt show X-Play that is just used to get ratings so you can make money for your overlords.

    So what's more important to you Adam; games and the gamers that deserve proper views on games, or the minimum wage that you get from your evil step masters?

    Posted: October 26, 2011 10:34 AM
    gambolingman
  • paulbvarela

    i really dont care about the score. i think adam just wanted to go against the grain just to have this discussion. he knew it would be a big deal. 4 is a score that g4 gives to mediocre games and 5 is greatness. while everyone else would gladly give this game an 11 adam just wanted to see what would happen if he gave it a 4. if you were an investigative reporter and you saw this review side by side with uncharted 2, you would think something was up. lives in the shadow of uncharted 2 is not a reason. living in the shadow of its predecessor is not a con that any other game has had. why dont you just tell your new gf that you miss your old gf even if your new gf is hotter? tacked on multiplayer? the last game had multiplayer as well and it wasnt tacked on... i dont think there is any way that this multiplayer was just slapped on at the last moment with the beta and the previous game having consequently the same multiplayer. it just never adds up. no one is going to judge the game based on this review thanks to other reviewers calling it a masterpiece but it just feels wrong, having him give the review this score just so that there someone would cause a stir. its arrogant. other games had stronger flaws than that and still maintained a 5/5

    Posted: October 26, 2011 9:53 AM
  • Dexter111

    You use many words for something that doesn't need them...

    A rating is there to decide if something is good or not, if I want to buy a game I never heard about (on say Steam) I usually check Metacritic to see if it's worth it, same way I do check product reviews if I want to buy a product and if it's got below a rating of say 60% or so I either try to find out what people thought was wrong with it or not bother at all.

    It's also more than somewhat hypocritical that Adam is complaining about a rating system the publication he is Editor-in-Chief of uses for every game (either damning it or thumbs-upping it) in good conscience and he himself used punish several games he didn't like by giving them 3 stars or below. Before you start complaining about it maybe you could stop using it yourself... otherwise your words have no real meaning.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 9:52 AM
    Dexter111
  • Jackal5

    Adam shouldn't have to explain himself to anyone. It's his opinion. If people don't like it then they can buy or rent the game for themsleves and make their own decisions which they should be doing anyway. Complaining about a 4 out of 5 is nonsense.

    I haven't signed in this site is years but I came to to voice my opinion.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 9:39 AM
    Jackal5
  • blacktooth_grin

    I AGREE 100 percent.

    I completely agree with everything Adam said...and I wish I elaborate without putting my identity in a vulnerable position.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 9:37 AM
    blacktooth_grin
  • roxorz14

    Taking ridiculous fanboy-ism entirely out of the equation...

    People like the numbers because it's a quick and easy litmus test. Games aren't cheap...and people base their game purchases (particularly on new IPs) on reviews. Do I agree with this system? Nope. But I do understand that we are mostly pigeonholed into it because of the cost of games. Not every game on the market is worth $60...and the quick and dirty number rating helps us determine that.

    Like I said...quick and dirty. Which is what this society wants. Frankly, I don't look at the score. I read what the reviewer has written. There is some thought in there and it's easy to see what that person is and isn't basing their opinions on. The score alone doesn't reveal reviewer bias that really can change what that actual score means.

    Sess...I don't know how much of the man you are within G4, but I would imagine you have some sort of pull. If you don't like the system, push for change. We like our Sess whole and not dying a little with each review.

    Gaming companies can also stop this stupidity by tier leveling their prices. Established, successful franchises should only be getting the $60 price tag. But that's a whole other discussion on it's own. :)

    Posted: October 26, 2011 9:32 AM
    roxorz14
  • PorkSoda

    Rabble rabble rabble.. words words words.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 9:25 AM
    PorkSoda
  • kinghunter64

    kinghunter64's comment is abusive and has been removed.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 8:28 AM
    kinghunter64
  • TGFKAMAdmaX

    Your face when you talked about how they come for your honest opinion and than crucify you for it had me dieing of laughter. I know this doesn't add to the discussion that you want but i thought this needed to be said.

    Posted: October 26, 2011 8:28 AM
    TGFKAMAdmaX
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